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Poem by Bayard Taylor

The Song of the Camp

GIVE us a song! the soldiers cried,
  The outer trenches guarding,
When the heated guns of the camps allied
  Grew weary of bombarding.

The dark Redan, in silent scoff,        
  Lay, grim and threatening, under;
And the tawny mound of the Malakoff
  No longer belched its thunder.

There was a pause. A guardsman said,
  We storm the forts to-morrow;        
Sing while we may, another day
  Will bring enough of sorrow.

They lay along the batterys side,
  Below the smoking cannon:
Brave hearts, from Severn and from Clyde,        
  And from the banks of Shannon.

They sang of love, and not of fame;
  Forgot was Britains glory:
Each heart recalled a different name,
  But all sang Annie Laurie.        

Voice after voice caught up the song,
  Until its tender passion
Rose like an anthem, rich and strong,
  Their battle-eve confession.

Dear girl, her name he dared not speak,        
  But, as the song grew louder,
Something upon the soldiers cheek
  Washed off the stains of powder.

Beyond the darkening ocean burned
  The bloody sunsets embers,        
While the Crimean valleys learned
  How English love remembers.

And once again a fire of hell
  Rained on the Russian quarters,
With scream of shot, and burst of shell,        
  And bellowing of the mortars!

And Irish Noras eyes are dim
  For a singer, dumb and gory;
And English Mary mourns for him
  Who sang of Annie Laurie.      

Sleep, soldiers! still in honored rest
  Your truth and valor wearing:
The bravest are the tenderest,
  The loving are the daring. 

Bayard Taylor

Bayard Taylor's other poems:
  1. The Return of the Goddess
  2. Gettysburg Ode
  3. America to Iceland
  4. To M. T.
  5. Daughter of Egypt

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